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Driving on the expressway and traffic rules

Please drive at a safe speed within the speed limit.

Speed limits on national expressways are largely designated by traffic signs so after confirming with traffic signs and road indicators, please drive at a safe speed.

  • Speed limit signs
  • Speed limit sign&Traffic sign
The speed limit designated on traffic signs is called the designated maximum speed and is divided into 2 types.
  1. The public safety commissions of prefectural and city governments designate the speed limit according to the construction of the road and other qualities.
  2. The commanding officer of the police in charge of expressways and traffic designates the speed limit according to traffic conditions like climate (rain and snow) and occurrence of traffic accidents.

The legal speed limit applies to sections of the road where the speed limit is not designated by traffic signs, etc. This legal limit is specified by the road traffic law enforcement ordinance at 80 km per hour for light automobiles and 100 km per hour for standard vehicles.

Please keep an appropriate distance between your car and the car in front of you.

A car traveling at 100km per hour on a dry surface travels about 100 meters after braking before it stops. In some conditions, like when tires are worn or the road is wet from rain, it can take twice that long. Consequently, it is necessary to have plenty of distance between cars to prepare for situations like the car in front of you coming to a sudden stop.

Driving on the shoulder of the road is prohibited.

The shoulder of the road is not a lane for cars. Use of the shoulder of the road is limited to emergency vehicles like police cars and ambulances, and the temporary stopping of vehicles in the event of an accident.
It is not just a violation of the Road Traffic Law for a general vehicle to drive on the shoulder, there is a possibility that such usage would impair emergency response in the event of an emergency so it is imperative to refrain from driving on the shoulder.

Parking is prohibited.

Parking is prohibited on the expressway except for the following circumstances:

  • When there is temporary stopping for hazard prevention or at the orders of police.
  • When parking in a parking lot or service area.
  • When, due to an accident or other condition, it is necessary to park on the shoulder when there is sufficient space.
  • When the car must be stopped in order to pay toll.

U-turns, backing up and crossing traffic is prohibited.

Do not make U-turns, back up or cross the divider on the expressway.

Drive on the left side of the road, pass to the right.

Pass in the passing lane on the right. Keep the passing lane open for cars that are passing.

Strictly observe the minimum speed limit.

On the main roads of the national expressway, when the minimum speed limit is not specified by traffic signs, etc. driving speed must be over 50 km per hour except when necessary to avoid danger. Please check with the police for the minimum speed limit on the freeway.

Usage of mobile phones while driving is prohibited.